The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Out to dinner

My belly is happy but my bank account is a little sad after last week.
In the last two weeks, I've been to Hugo, Red, Lavomatic, Nada, Andy's, Teak and (gulp) Don Pablo's.
I blame Restaurant Week's extension. Some friends and I went to Hugo two Thursdays ago and had such a good time (and a FABULOUS meal) that we went to Red the following Thursday. I wasn't planning to go, but I did and enjoyed myself.
Red was OK, in my opinion, but my friends (all beef eaters) loved it. We were first seated right outside the bathroom and in the line of traffic for every server passing through the dining room. Add a screaming baby and we quickly asked to switch to the much less crowded back room.
Our salads were good but forgettable. (A week later, I can't remember which one I had!) There were only two choices for Resto Week entrees: beef and mahi-mahi with mussels in a saffron broth. I liked the saffron broth, but the mahi-mahi and mussels were incredibly overdone. The broth had an identity crisis: There wasn't enough to eat with a spoon, and it was too thin to thoroughly sauce the fish.
I tried my friends' mashed potatoes -- each upgraded, to garlic and to pesto potatoes. They were fabulously rich and delicious.
The dessert was so-so: Banana bread pudding was too eggy, the sauce too sweet and the ice cream just right. (I'm lactose intolerant and try really hard not to eat ice cream, so I passed on it after a bite.)
I think I should have ordered a couple of sides and a full dinner salad. I would have been happier. Others rave about Red, so I'm willing to give it another chance.
The very next night, some friends and I tried to have dinner at Lavomatic but settled for a glass of wine and headed to Nada. (So nice to see restaurants crowded so soon after opening, though for purely selfish purposes, I wish it hadn't been so crowded at 8 p.m. on a Friday night.)
Nada was, as usual, perfect. Guacamole ($9) was creamy and delicious -- I love eating it with crudite in addition to the chips. It eliminates the guilt of eating guacamole. Last time, I complained about greasy thick flour chips, but they were not greasy this time. I had the black bean and mushroom tacos ($12). I like them even better than the mahi-mahi tacos ($16) I had last time. The sangria was fabulous -- and stuck to just one because I'd already had a few glasses.
(Saturday night I cooked a fabulous vegetarian dinner at home: Zucchini-basil skillet cakes, wild rice pancakes and vegan basil cream pasta with vegan chocolate cake and strawberry jam. More on that later.)
Sunday, my sister came in town and we took her to Teak, where they have a new sushi chef named JJ. He's from Korea, my friend told me after we left, and he's really good. Teak is our go-to sushi place, so we're usually not overly impressed. (Does that make sense? When it's always good, you only notice when it's bad for some reason.) Sunday we ordered a giant boatload of sushi and were incredibly impressed. Among our favorites were a hot mama roll (look for it soon on the Teak menu) and a mackerel tartare with spicy sauce. Mackerel is my favorite sashimi, but I'd never had it like this.
Monday, after yoga, we walked to Andy's Mediterranean Grill in Walnuts Hills. (Boyfriend lives near Eden Park, so with a shortcut, it's just a few blocks away, we learned.) This was news to me: from 9-11 p.m. on Mondays, food and drinks are half off at Andy's. It wasn't corned beef and cabbage, but it was a fun way to finish St. Patrick's Day with a group of friends.
Ooh, and I forgot one: Had lunch at Via Vite yesterday. I wasn't feeling great, so I just had the roasted yellow pepper soup ($7 a bowl). It was bright and rich and perfect on such a dreary day.
Tomorrow I have a lunch meeting in West Chester, at Mesh. I'm pretty excited. That's another restaurant I don't visit often. It's a really long drive for me!
What have you been eating lately? Needless to say, after a long week of meals out, I've got to cut back a bit.


at 8:42 PM Blogger liberal foodie said...

Chalk! The food was great for restaurant week, unfortunately the portions weren't. We'll go back for another try. I am going to Nada soon, all of you have really hyped it up for me. I hope it's great for lunch!

at 6:44 AM Blogger Cin Twin1 said...

Yummy! I want your job! How do you become a food critic I wonder? Do you just have to opinionated?

at 8:22 AM Blogger Stepf said...

Oh, I wasn't going out for work... Aside from the meeting at Via Vite, which had nothing to do with food. It's Polly's job everyone wants, not mine. :)

at 10:24 AM Anonymous lauren said...

I ate at Seny a couple of weeks ago. There were some dishes I wouldn't get again (the carpaccio-style beef and the deconstructed tuna salad) and some dishes I am already craving (the spicy fried potatoes, codfish fritters, scallops and slow-roasted mushrooms, to name a few).

Nada, as you said, is always perfect! I love their Nada-ritas and the chicken taquitos.

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